Study: U.S. Generic Drugs Cost Less Than Canadian Drugs

By Bren, Linda | FDA Consumer, July-August 2004 | Go to article overview

Study: U.S. Generic Drugs Cost Less Than Canadian Drugs


Bren, Linda, FDA Consumer


If you think all drugs from Canada are cheaper than U.S. drugs, think again. In the United States, generic drugs--roughly half of all prescriptions--are often cheaper than both Canadian brand-name drugs and Canadian generic drugs, according to a study by the Food and Drug Administration.

FDA analysts looked at the seven biggest-selling generic prescription drugs for chronic conditions that became available as generics in the United States since 1993:

* alprazolam (generic for Xanax) for anxiety and panic disorders

* clonazepam (generic for Klonopin) for seizure and panic disorders

* enalapril (generic for Vasotec) for high blood pressure

* fluoxetine (generic for Prozac) for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and bulimia nervosa

* lisinopril (generic for Zestril and Prinivil) for high blood pressure and heart failure

* metformin (generic for Glucophage) for type 2 diabetes

* metoprolol (generic for Lopressor) for high blood pressure, angina, and heart failure.

For six of the seven drags, the U.S. generics were priced lower than the brand-name versions in Canada. Five of the seven U.S. generic drugs were also cheaper than the Canadian generics. Of the remaining two U.S. generic drags, one (enalapril) was unavailable in Canada generically, and its Canadian brand-name version was more than five times the price of the U.S. generic equivalent. The other U.S. generic (metformin) sold for less in Canada both as a generic and as a brand name. Metformin did not become available generically in the United States until January 2002, so U.S. generic prices have likely not fallen to the level they will eventually reach, say the FDA Office of Planning economists who did the study.

The FDA study compared the average price of the generic and brand-name versions of seven drugs sold in the United States and Canada by calculating the price per milligram of active ingredients in U.S. dollars. Prices in Canada were converted to prices in U. …

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